Plant Focus – Lords and Ladies

Lords and Ladies, Arum maculatum, is a native Irish plant that I first noticed one autumn when I saw spikes of red, almost holly like, berries sticking out of the ground. I must admit I was impressed with the plant from just seeing the berries but it is a much nicer plant in spring.

The first thing to appear are its heart-shapped waxy green leaves. The leaves alone make the plant interesting but its real selling point is its unusal pale greenish yellow flower that appears in April and May. We are just coming to the end of the flowering season now which is a shame but I managed to get a few photos of it on my travels.

The flower itself is very unusual. As Wildflower of Ireland describes it:

The flowers comprise a pale green, purple margined spathe which is cowl-shaped and which partly shrouds the club-shaped, purple-brown spadix

Under a ring of hairs near the base of the spadix are the male flowers, below which is another ring of hairs with the female flowers below that.

As you can tell from the photos below it really is a plant that stands out in woodlands for the few short weeks it is around. I found a tiny batch growing down the end of my garden. I don’t know if it is a new arrival thanks to a bird or some creature carrying it in or if I have just been over looking it down the very end of my garden.

 

Please note that all parts of this plant are highly toxic!!

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